Ghislaine Maxwell, longtime associate of the accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, speaks at a press conference on oceans and sustainable development at the United Nations in New York on June 25, 2013 in this screenshot from the United Nations TV footage.
UNTV | Reuters
Ghislaine Maxwell, the British celebrity accused of sexual abuse of young girls by Jeffrey Epstein, became the first inmate of New York City federal prison to receive a personal attorney on Friday since coronavirus restrictions went into effect months ago, a lawyer said opposite CNBC.
58-year-old Maxwell got this visit to a Brooklyn prison, although many other inmates who were held there for much longer and in a federal prison in Manhattan were unable to receive visits from their own lawyers due to Covid-19 rules.
"I know it's my first personal visit," said Sean Hecker, an attorney involved in litigation over terms and conditions and visits to the Metropolitan Detention Center, where the wealthy Maxwell has been held in solitary confinement since early July.
"It is outrageous that the first personal visit is being made to a well-heeled British celebrity whom the President of the United States has approved," said Hecker.
"It just serves to confirm that our government does not understand that it operates two different judicial systems, one for the well-heeled and well-connected and one for everyone else," he said.
The Daily News first reported that Maxwell received a visit from two of her lawyers on Friday. The newspaper quoted sources as saying she was the first inmate in a New York federal prison to receive such a visit in months.
Hecker said he learned about the visit and knows that it was the first federal prison in the city.
Hecker represents the Federal Defenders of New York, a nonprofit group of attorneys who defend clients in need in federal criminal matters.
The group has a pending lawsuit regarding the conditions with MDC. Recent court records show that there have been no personal legal visits to the prison since last week.
Hecker said federal officials recently discussed allowing a number of inmates in the jail to receive visits from their lawyers. However, he noted that visits would initially be limited to just one lawyer and only for an hour.
However, Maxwell received a three-hour visit from two lawyers, he said.
Hecker said he was angry about preferential treatment for Maxwell, but he didn't blame her lawyers for seeking and receiving the visit.
He asked why the BOP would allow her to visit more liberal terms than the agency had discussed with lawyers for the defense lawyers, if only because the public perception of such different treatment "is so utterly problematic".
A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement emailed: "While we are not talking about the conditions of detention of any particular inmate, including whether or not a particular inmate receives a lawyer visit, we can provide the following general information about visits during the Passing on the pandemic These protocols are still in place in the correctional facilities of the Bureau of Prisons to this day. "
"During the pandemic, access to legal aid remains a priority, but the BOP needs to reduce the risk of exposure from outside visitors," the spokesman said.
"While legal visits are generally suspended, local accommodations will be conducted on a case-by-case basis and confidential legal calls will be allowed to ensure inmates continue to have access to legal assistance. We are facilitating attorney visits." and videoconferencing litigation, mainly in our detention centers. "
Maxwell attorneys lost their offer this month to relocate her to the general population of the prison and under less restrictive custody than she saw in prison. The attorneys, who had not responded to a request for comment on Friday, said the conditions make it difficult for Maxwell to prepare for her trial next year.
Maxwell pleaded guilty to her case, accusing her of recruiting and caring for several underage girls, one only 14 years old, in the mid-1990s for Epstein to abuse.
She and wealthy investor Epstein had been friends with Presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, as well as Britain's Prince Andrew, years ago.
The 66-year-old Epstein died in Manhattan Federal Prison in August 2019 as a result of a suicide by hanging. He had been arrested a month earlier for alleged sexual abuse of underage girls from 2002 to 2005 for child trafficking.
Trump, shortly after Maxwell's arrest, said he wished her "all the best". He later said he offered her best wishes on Epstein's fate in prison.